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Redford Township war hero busted for growing marijuana fights to clear his name

Frank Bally says he grew marijuana for pain relief

REDFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A Redford Township war hero busted by federal officials for growing marijuana is fighting to clear his name, claiming he was only helping people.

When Frank Bally began growing marijuana, he drew the attention of the Drug Enforcement Administration and federal agents. They said he was a drug dealer, but he claims they got it all wrong.

Bally said he was growing pot for people in pain, but federal agents raided his home, called him a drug dealer and hauled him off to jail.

Video shows federal agents from the DEA with guns drawn in a quiet Redford Township neighborhood ordering those inside to come out with their hands up.

The home is owned by Bally, a 20-year war veteran who joined the military at 17 years old. He served in Operation Desert Storm, broke a collarbone during a training operation and returned home.

"I truly enjoyed my service," Bally said. "It was an honor to serve the country."

Bally was prescribed painkillers for his injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. He said he hated the painkillers and preferred marijuana because it worked for his pain.

"I wanted relief," Bally said. "I didn't want something that made me ... like a zombie and drool."

He created a THC strain out of his suburban home and shared it with others who have medical marijuana cards. A few started growing plants in Bally's home, but nobody was making money, Bally said.

The motive was pain relief, but federal officials showed up anyway, according to Bally.

"They had everybody held at gunpoint as though they were terrorists or they were anticipating some violence," said David S. Steingold, Bally's attorney. "It was way over the top."

Bally was charged with eight counts, from possession of marijuana to conspiracy to distribute marijuana. He said he couldn't believe it.

"It makes me feel like I'm a traitor to the United States for no reason," Bally said. "Like, why should I feel this way? All I've done in my life is put it out on the line for this country, and it's horrible. It's a twist in the knife. It's a stab in the back."

He was facing the possibility of serious prison time.

"My sentencing guideline was 37-60 months for the one charge," Bally said. "Five years for each charge."

Bally's operation was in violation because it didn't comply with specific rules for medical marijuana.

"They didn't have enough room for each caregiver to have their own separate locked facility, which is a requirement," Bally said. "They shared a room, so yes, there were violations."

Bally pleaded guilty and threw himself at the mercy of the court. To his surprise, he found support from the prosecutor.

"(He said), 'He's helping people. I don't believe he needs to go to prison. I don't want him to go to prison,'" Bally said. "But I must have a felony."

Judge David Lawson was required by law to give Bally some prison time. He sentenced him to one day with time served, so Bally was free to go. But now he has a felony attached to his record.

"I thought the prosecution against Frank Bally was unwarranted," Steingold said. "The fact that he is saddled with a felony now is a crime."

"I understand there is a law, but it's so archaic," Bally said. "It's ridiculous. It's greed and profit and politics -- nothing that makes sense."

As a convicted felon, Bally isn't allowed to grow, sell or use marijuana. He said he appreciates not going to prison and will use his freedom to fight for the legalization of marijuana.